Tactic: The Order of Salary Negotiation

I’m a big fan of Google Alerts.  I have them set up for multiple topics including salary negotiation.  This helps me to see developments in the topic.  Most of the time, I find myself adding to my knowledge base.  Once in a while, I find myself wondering how people can make such recommendations.

A case in point is a recent article in the International Business Times Blogs.  The title of the article is very accurate – “Always Attempt a Salary Negotiation.”  I heartily agree which is why I started my blog. The article references some great research about negotiating.  It’s the recommended low-risk strategy that gives me concern.

“If nothing else, we suggest a low-risk strategy of saying,

“Thank you, I accept the job offer…but I wonder if there’s any room on salary?”

To me this is a classic “putting the cart before the horse” situation. You are no longer negotiating once you accept the job.  You may be requesting, begging, or pleading but it  definitely is not negotiating.

Let me explain why.  During the interview process both the candidate and the hiring manager is considering whether or not the two of you make the best fit.  The norm is that the hiring manager decides first if the candidate meets the company’s need. When the decision is in the positive, the job offer with salary is the first indication of that decision.  At that very moment, you (the candidate) now know the hiring manager’s decision and your own. That’s one up to the hiring manager who does not know your decision.   If knowledge is power than you just became the more powerful person.  The moment you accept the job the power shifts away from you.

Consider the purpose of negotiations.  It’s a means for  two or more parties to make an equitable exchange.   A job candidate has knowledge and abilities that a company wants.  A company has pay, benefits, and security that a candidate wants.  The negotiation is a process to decide how much salary, benefits, and security the company  needs to exchange for a particular candidate’s knowledge and talent.  Once the candidate says yes, the company has their answer and they no longer need to negotiate.

My recommended low-risk negotiation opening is stating something closer to these words. “Thank you for the offer.  I need to consider it before giving you my decision however, one thing that strikes me right away is that the salary is lower than I expected.”

So, yes always negotiate salary but please don’t start the negotiation after you accept the job. Start with the negotiation and you will be more successful at getting a higher salary than the original offer.


@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited